Blue Ribbon Blog

Welcome to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation’s blog!

We are a non-profit organization with a mission to raise funds for the renovation and preservation of the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds. Since our inception in 1993, the Foundation has raised more than $195 million through individual contributions, state appropriations, in-kind services, and corporate, federal and state grants.

Please follow our blog to learn more about our organization.

Corndog Kickoff

May 27, 2014
Intern's picture

I hope everyone enjoyed their long Memorial Day weekend!

The weather may be a little cloudy outside, but that hasn’t put a damper on the mood of the Foundation staff. Everyone is busy working in anticipation of the upcoming Corndog Kickoff. July, 12 may seem like it’s far away, but there is a lot of work to be done to pull off this huge event. From making phone calls to possible donors, to updating donation forms in a database, to actually picking up and organizing auction packages, everyone has something to do. I’ve had the privilege of seeing some of the auction packages as they have come into the office, and let me tell you, they are pretty cool! If you are interested in being part of the 18th annual Corndog Kickoff you still have plenty of time to buy tickets. Tickets are $75 prior to June, 30 and $100 after that; they can be ordered online. Not only does this event include a live and silent auction, it also includes a variety of Fair foods. What better way to get excited for the 2014 Iowa State Fair than by eating a bunch of your favorite Fair foods. I know all this Corndog Kickoff talk is certainly getting me excited for all that is to come. I cannot wait for both the Corndog Kickoff and the Iowa State Fair. Seeing all of our hard work pay off will be truly amazing!


Some of last year's Corndog Kickoff Auction Packages


May 23, 2014
Intern's picture
Do you love the State Fair?  Do you love volunteering?  If you answered yes to both of these questions, then you should consider volunteering with the Blue Ribbon Foundation at this year’s Fair.  From selling water, Fair Squares, and merchandise, volunteering with the Foundation offers many different options to fit your needs.   
Each volunteer is required to work one 4 hour shift (merchandise volunteers are required to work two 4 hour shifts.)  By working a shift, you will receive a t-shirt, a ticket into the Fair, as well as a parking pass for the day you work.  You are more than welcome to work more than one shift too!! Each volunteer must be 16 years of age or accompanied by a parent/guardian. 
For more information and to fill out the online form go to:
For many years, my family and I have volunteered at the fair.  From serving people a pork-chop on a stick, to answering questions about the sheep industry, there was always a certain interaction with another person that stuck with me, helped me grow as individual, and overall has prepared me for this position to help other volunteers.  
I hope to work with you at the fair as we share our love of volunteering and our great state fair!!!

Meet Paris

May 20, 2014
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Hello all! My name is Paris Schnepf and I am one of this year’s summer interns for the Blue Ribbon Foundation, working specifically with the donors throughout the fair and managing ticket sales. Just recently I finished my sophomore year at the University of Iowa (Go Hawks!) where I am majoring in Communication Studies and Entrepreneurship in the Performing Arts with a minor in music. I keep busy throughout the school year working as a waitress at the Bluebird Café in North Liberty, singing in an A Cappella group called “Take Note,” and volunteering through the University of Iowa Dance Marathon Family Relations Committee. You can catch me playing my guitar or singing any time of the day or training for the Chicago Marathon this upcoming October.

I cannot begin to tell you how exciting it was this morning to arrive on the grounds and walk into the offices for my first day. The Iowa State Fair truly is my second “home” away from home. Rather than heading somewhere far away for vacation every summer, my family looked forward to the trip to Des Moines to show off our 4-H projects and eat fried Mac-and-Cheese bites. For several years, I competed in the Bill Riley Talent Search and fell in love with the loud applause from the audience. Above all, one of my greatest memories of the fair revolve around my experiences as the 2011 Iowa State Fair Queen.  I look forward to gaining new perspectives of the Iowa State Fair, learning the “ins and outs” and making contributions each day to the Fair YOU, and I, both love.  

One Big Family

May 19, 2014
Intern's picture

Happy Monday!

I hope everyone is having a great start to the week. Lots of exciting things have happened since I last blogged. One exciting thing, I finished my school year at Central and started working full-time at the Blue Ribbon Foundation. It has been good for my time management skills to balance both Fair work and school work, but I’m happy to be focusing on the Fair for the rest of the summer. As well as finishing school, another exciting thing has happened; both of the other interns have started working. It’s fun to have the office full of chatter and smiling faces. Earlier today Peter called us one big family, and that’s truly how it feels. Everyone here is so friendly and we all get along really well. Today we took a staff field trip to the State Historical Society to look at some old Fair posters and photographs. I know the fair has been around for a long time, but seeing these photographs made those past Fairs seem even more real, and made me even more excited for this year’s Fair.
 Speaking of this year’s Fair, it’s only 79 days away! Now that we are less than 100 days away, it seems like it’s just around the corner. I have received several nominations for Iowan of the Day and I am eager to receive more. If you haven’t nominated anyone yet, there is still plenty of time! Nomination forms and examples of supplemental materials can be found online. If you have already nominated someone and have more materials to add to your nomination, you’ve still got time for that as well! We will continue to accept nominations and supplemental materials until July, 1. 

Enjoy your week!

2014 Corndog Kickoff Tickets

May 15, 2014
drewnorton's picture
Corndog Kickoff admission tickets are now officially on sale!
We are counting down and the event is only 58 days away! Saturday, July 12 will mark our 18th annual Corndog Kickoff. We invite you to join us in "Rock'n Round the Grounds". Don't miss another great lineup of auction items as well as Fair food, SkyGlider rides, fireworks and more.  Be sure to get your all-inclusive kickoff tickets prior to June 30 to receive the discounted ticket price.
If you've already donated as a Corndog Kickoff Patron, your tickets are included with that donation, but you are welcome to purchase additional tickets as well. It's not too late to become a Patron and reserve your table for the night. 
Check out these pictures from last year's event:

Meet Stephanie

May 14, 2014
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Hello Fairgoers, enthusiasts, lovers, and more. My name is Stephanie Boardman, and I am the 2014 Volunteer Relations Intern for the Blue Ribbon Foundation.  I am currently in my first week of work at the Foundation as I just finished my junior year at the University of Northern Iowa where I am double majoring in Marketing and Public Relations.  At UNI, I am very active with Alpha Phi Sorority where I am the chapter’s Vice President of Marketing, as well as Future Business Leaders of America- Phi Beta Lambda where I currently hold the position of National Parliamentarian.  This summer I will be contacting, coordinating, and working with volunteers from across our great state for the 18th Annual Corndog Kickoff and the 160th Iowa State Fair.  I am very excited for this year to see the “other side” of the fair.  In the past I have been a camper, shown cattle, pigs, and horses for both 4-H and FFA, competed as a county fair queen and cowgirl queen, and volunteered numerous times with Iowa Pork Producers at the Pork Tent, Ag Building, and Animal Learning Center.  I look forward to working with all the amazing volunteers this year and continuing to ensure “Nothing Compares” to the Iowa State Fair.

- Stephanie

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

May 7, 2014
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I’ve had another great week of work! Not too many exciting things have happened, I have just been plugging away on the Iowan of the Day and Corndog Kickoff work. The deadline to donate for the kickoff is May 20, and the deadline for Iowan of the Day nominations is July 1. It’s hard to believe I have been working part-time at the Fair for almost two months now, because it sure hasn’t felt that long. I guess what people say is true, “time flies when you are having fun!” That is definitely a good way to sum up this internship. It can be a lot of work, but it sure is fun! I think my favorite thing, so far, about working here is the atmosphere. Everyone I’ve met is so nice and genuinely loves the Iowa State Fair. It makes coming to work much easier when I am surrounded by people who are just as excited about their work as I am. Starting next week there will be even more excitement in the office as one of the other interns will be joining me. It has been great being able to come into the office these past few months in order to get a jump start on some of my work, but it has gotten a little bit lonely. It will be a nice change of pace to have another friendly face in the office.
Be sure you get out and enjoy the beautiful weather this week, I know I will be!


Favorite Foods

April 30, 2014
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Can you believe that tomorrow is already the first day of May? I know I sure can’t! The beginning of May means different things to different people, but to me, it means Tulip Time. As I said in one of my earlier blogs I am a student at Central College in Pella, IA. Each year in Pella we have an annual Tulip Time festival to celebrate tulips, springtime, and the community. It’s definitely my favorite time of the year, and to say I’m excited is an understatement. Tulip Time is the perfect opportunity to get off campus for a little while and spend some quality time with your friends. And you also get to eat amazing food! I’m not much of a Dutch letter fan myself, but I’ll eat pretty much anything and everything else they have at Tulip Time. The frozen cookie dough and the walking tacos are two of my all-time favorites. All this talk of food makes me think of all the amazing Fair foods. If I’m going to be at the Fair all 11 days, I better start making a list now of all the things I’m going to want to eat! One of the first things I’ll have to eat is a corndog, because corndogs are a Fair tradition. Speaking of corndogs and Fair traditions, are you ready for the Corndog Kickoff? It’s going to be here before you know it, so be sure to mark your calendars for July 12. While you are marking your calendar, be sure to mark July 1 as well. That is the day all Iowan of the Day nominations need to be received by. If you haven’t found anyone to nominate yet, don’t worry, you’ve still got two months to send in the nomination. Examples of nominations can be found at And just one more thing to mark your calendars with, the 2014 Iowa State Fair. August 7-17. Only 98 days away!



Save the Date - 2014 Corndog Kickoff

April 30, 2014
drewnorton's picture

Save the Date for the 2014 Corndog Kickoff, scheduled for July 12. More details about becoming a 2014 Patron, purchasing tickets, or donating an auction item can be found on our website. 


Phone Calls and Flowers

April 24, 2014
Intern's picture

They say April showers bring May flowers. Well, if that’s the case, we should have all kinds of May flowers blooming in the next couple of weeks! Though all of this rain makes me want to just stay in bed, there is still much to be done at the Blue Ribbon Foundation. Last week I sent out all the mailings for the Iowan of the Day program. I’ve been working on them all month, so getting them out in the mail was a huge weight off my shoulders. This week I took to the computer and sent out a variety of emails about the Iowan of the Day program. I also made some arrangements for a potential Corndog Kickoff auction package. Robin was nice enough to let me organize this one mostly on my own. It has been a really cool experience for me because it has given me the opportunity to completely take responsibility for the package and make it something I know people will enjoy. One thing that comes with organizing a kickoff auction package is making phone calls to arrange all the details. Prior to organizing this package, I hadn’t spent much time on the phone. So making my first official phone call was slightly terrifying. There were all sorts of questions running through my mind. Such as: what do I say? What do I do? Do I have the right information? What if I say the wrong thing? Robin was helpful in providing me with information about the Corndog Kickoff, calming some of my nerves. Overall the conversations have been successful and I can’t wait to put the finishing details on this awesome auction package. Since we’ve been talking about the phone, I’ll also tell you that this was the first week I came into the office and had messages. Coming into work today with my message button lit up made me feel so official! And returning the phone calls made me feel even more official; plus it wasn’t scary at all. Come to think of it, the phones aren’t really all that scary anymore. Everything in life is a little scary in the beginning, but once you get used to it, it can be a lot of fun!

Have a wonderful weekend!